2015 Pecan Harvest Begins

Our pecan orchard is in warp speed this time of year gathering our fresh Louisiana pecans signifying the start of the  2015 pecan harvest at Little Eva Plantation.  Within the last previous two to three weeks the orchard floor has been cleaned of many broken limbs clearing the ground beneath each tree which enable the pecan harvesters

Pecan harvester picking pecans at Little Eva Plantation.

Pecan harvester picking pecans at Little Eva Plantation.

to not miss a pecan as these machines go around and around each tree gathering nuts beneath the trees.  Each variety is  typically harvested  individually. – Candy variety is an earlier maturing nut and is usually always harvested first.  Then comes Elliott, Desirable, Branch, Stuart, Caddo, Sumner and Melrose.

When the pecan harvester’s bin is full, the nuts are dumped into a pecan wagon.

Pecan wagon loaded and ready to head to the cleaning plant.

Pecan wagon loaded and ready to head to the cleaning plant.

Next stop is the cleaning plant.  Once the filled pecan wagon arrives at the cleaning plant, the nuts are dumped into a pit and are then carried by conveyors and various elevators up and down and around and through the dirt machine where dirt clods and large sticks and other debris are removed and blown into our trash trailer.   Next the pecans make their way to the Savage in-shell color sorter.  Savage Sorters employ high-resolution color cameras and highly specialized color-sorting software to identify and separate stick-tight nuts and other light debris. In a split second the machine uses a small blast of air to separate them out from the good-product flow. The sorting criteria is completely adjustable on the simple-to-use touch-screen computer terminal. Even novice computer users can learn the simple tasks involved.  After color sorting, the pecans proceed to the Savage pecan sizer where they are sized and then bagged in bulk bags and labeled as to variety, size, date of harvest, and what section of orchard the bagged pecans came from.  Filled super bags are then moved into the warehouse.  Next week I will blog about the cracking and shelling process.

 

 

 

Caramel Popcorn Pecan Crunch

Caramel Popcorn Pecan Crunch will be a delicious treat to bring to tailgate parties or family gatherings to enjoy while watching the weekend football games.  This easy recipe would also be a great idea to use for tasty gifts for the upcoming holidays.  Find an attractive gift bag, fill it with pecan crunch,  attach the recipe to the top and present it to the special people on your list.  Pecans added to any recipe contribute to the nutrition value of that dish.  Pecans provide antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and heart health properties.

Ingredients

20 cups popped popcorn

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups large pecan pieces

1 tsp soda

Directions

  1. Combine brown sugar, butter, salt and corn syrup in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil.  Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla and soda, stirring quickly.  Pour over the popped popcorn and pecan pieces that have been placed into a large oven safe pan.  Mix well.
  4. Bake for 1 hour in a 250 degree F oven.  Stir every 20 minutes.
  5. Cool on large cookie sheets and ENJOY!

*Variation – Chocolate chips could be added for an extra  taste for all the chocolate lovers.

Caramel Popcorn Pecan Crunch

Caramel Popcorn Pecan Crunch

 

Roasted Pecan Butter Pecan Pie (Louisiana Cajun)

 

Charlotte Lancaster shared this recipe with  us. The thing that separates this pecan pie recipe from most others is the use of GROUND roasted pecans in the filling, in addition to the usual pecan halves. Besides enhancing the pecan flavor, the ground pecans also give the filling a slightly less “goopy” texture.

Dough Ingredients                                        

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut up
¼ cup ice water

Pecan Filling Ingredients                         

½ cup pecan pieces or halves, dry roasted until dark
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves

Directions for Dough
1. Sift 1 cup of the flour and the salt into a large bowl. Add butter, and working quickly with a light touch, cut butter into the flour with a spoon and fingertips until mixture is the texture of coarse cornmeal. Add ice water and stir until well blended.

2. Form the dough into a ball and place on a flat surface floured with the remaining 3 tablespoons flour. With a floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/8 inch. Place an ungreased 8 ½ inch round pie pan face down on top of the dough and cut around the pan, leaving a ¾ inch border. Lightly flour the top of the dough and fold it in quarters.

3. Carefully place dough in the pie pan, with the points of the folded dough centered. Unfold dough and line the pan bottom and sides, gently pressing dough into place and draping a little over the rim. Flute the edges. Refrigerate prepared pie shell until ready to use.

Directions for Pecan Filling
1. Process roasted pecans in a food processor until they become a relatively smooth butter, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping sides down as needed with a rubber spatula.

2. Place eggs in a medium-size bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed a few seconds until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla extract, salt and pecan butter. Beat on medium speed a few seconds until well mixed, pushing sides down as needed.

3. Stir in the unroasted pecan halves. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell.

4. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake until filling is browned on top and crust on edges is lightly browned, about 40 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

** Helpful Hint: To save time use a frozen pie crust.

 

Annual Pecan Conference Held

The annual Tri-State Pecan Conference was held in Natchez, Mississippi in mid June.  Growers from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi kicked off the meeting with an orchard tour of The Company Farm pecan orchard located in Baskin, Louisiana.  This farm is a square mile or 640 acres, and is being managed by Tom Childress.  Childress talked about his management practices for the orchard, the current varieties that are in the orchard, and the future goal of starting a hedging regime.  He says that the number one benefit, for him, is that hedging helps him achieve a more effective spray program.  Childress says he is trying to choose and plant the right pecan varieties to control problems, such as scab, because you “can’t spray your way out of a problem, you have to plant your way out.”

Lunch was provided in the orchard and then the group headed back to Natchez for business meetings and an evening reception.  The second day consisted of educational seminars and the always much anticipated pecan guesstimate of the season from Ben Littlepage.  He estimated that the U.S. crop would total 283 million pounds.  Below is a state by state estimated prediction:

Alabama………………..19 million

Arizona………………….25 million

Arkansas………………… 1 million

California………………..  6 million

 Florida…………………….0.5 million

Georgia…………………80.0 million

Kansas……………..0.5 million

Louisiana…………………4 million

Mississippi…………….. 1 million

New Mexico…………..70 million

N. Carolina…………..0.5 million

Oklahoma…………….35 million

S. Carolina…………..0.5 million

Texas…………………. 40 million

Pecan – How Do You Say This Word?

pecans-in-hands

Is it PEE-cans, pih-KAHNS, PO-kahns, or even PECK-ans?  According to askville by Amazon this word may even be pronounced as follows

  • pee-can’
  • pee-con’
  • puh-con’
  • puh-coon’
  • pic-con’
  • pee’-can
  • pic’-cun

Pecans have been a hot topic in the news within the last few years and rightfully so.  This versatile nut ranks highest among all nuts in antioxidant capacity.  Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc. One ounce of nutrient dense pecans provides 10% of the recommended Daily Value for fiber.   From lowering cholesterol to helping fight diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to enjoying pecan pralines, nothing compares to the pecan!

Below is portion of an article from http://farmflavor.com/how-do-you-say-pecan-mapping-food-dialect-trends-across-the-u-s/ow  for you to enjoy.

How do YOU say pecan?  Turns out, it depends on where you’re from.  Joshua Katz, a doctoral student studying statistics at NC State University, recently created interactive dialect maps using data from Bert Vaux at the University of Cambridge. For example, check out the map showing how people pronounce “pecan”:

pecan pronunciation map

It shows that pee-KAHN is dominant nationwide, but in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, pick-AHN reigns supreme. PEE-can is popular on the East Coast and in New England, while folks from Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula go with PEE-kahn.

The linguistics department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee just also shared a pecan pronunciation map that gives another option – where people may say pee-KAHN by itself, but then say PEE-can when using a compound word, like pecan pie.

So again – How do YOU say pecan?  Leave us a comment….